Labour Abandons Minimum Wage Negotiations Over Federal Government’s N48,000 Proposal

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Unions Reject Proposal as Wage Reduction

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have abandoned negotiations with the Federal Government after it proposed a N48,000 minimum wage, significantly below the N615,000 demanded by the unions.

Following the breakdown in talks, the labor leaders held an emergency press conference, expressing their outrage at the offer, which they described as “an insult to the sensibilities of Nigerian workers.” This marks the second impasse in two weeks; previous negotiations on April 29 also failed after labor insisted on N615,000.

NLC President Joe Ajaero explained that the N615,000 demand was based on an analysis of the current economic situation and the needs of an average Nigerian family of six. He detailed the breakdown of costs, including housing, utilities, food, medical expenses, and transportation, to justify the figure.

Ajaero criticized the Federal Government’s proposal, noting that it failed to meet the basic needs of workers and amounted to a wage reduction rather than an increase. He highlighted that even the lowest-paid workers in the private sector earn N78,000, according to the Organized Private Sector (OPS).

**Breakdown of Negotiations**

The labor leaders blamed the government and the OPS for the failed negotiations, accusing them of lacking transparency and good faith. Ajaero emphasized that the government’s inability to provide data to support its offer undermined the negotiation process.

“Accepting a N48,000 wage would reduce federal workers’ income, already at N30,000 plus Buhari’s N12,000 allowance and a N35,000 wage award, totaling N77,000,” Ajaero said. “This would harm workers’ economic well-being and is unacceptable.”

**Call for Fair Negotiation**

Despite walking out, the unions remain committed to fighting for workers’ rights. Ajaero called on the government to reconsider its position and return to negotiations with a fair proposal reflective of workers’ contributions and current economic realities.

The NLC and TUC continue to advocate for a N615,000 minimum wage, urging the government to align with President Bola Tinubu’s promise of a living wage for Nigerian workers.

**Government and OPS Responses**

The Presidency and the Minister of Information had not responded to the unions’ actions at the time of reporting. The tripartite committee, inaugurated in January 2024 to recommend a new minimum wage, has yet to reach a resolution.

NECA Director-General Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde described the labor’s walkout as premature, emphasizing the need for continued negotiations to reach a fair and sustainable wage agreement.

**Expert Opinions**

Experts argue that the government’s N48,000 proposal is inadequate given the high inflation rate and economic challenges. They stress the importance of a dignified living wage to prevent corruption and inequality, urging the government to offer a more reasonable proposal and engage in good-faith negotiations with labor unions.

The call for a higher minimum wage reflects a broader demand for economic justice and improved living conditions for Nigerian workers amid the nation’s challenging economic landscape.

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